The Central Connecticut football team has won four Northeast Conference titles since 2004. Central won the outright title in 2009, and shared titles in 2004, 2005 and 2010. According to the NEC Coaches on Wednesday, the Blue Devils were picked to win it again in 2011.
"It's always an honor to be picked first by the coaches in the preseason poll," sixth-year head coach Jeff McInerney said on Wednesday. "But that doesn't mean we can rest on that. We still need to work hard on the practice field and perform each and every Saturday on the field if we want to win an NEC title and earn a berth to the NCAA playoffs."
Central was first in the poll with five first place votes. In addition, three Blue Devils earned Preseason All-Conference honors. Senior offensive lineman Brendan Brackett, senior defensive lineman Charles Williams and sophomore defensive back Chris Linares all earned preseason recognition, voted on by the league's head coaches.
The Blue Devils were 8-3 overall and 7-1 in NEC play last season. It marked their second straight season with a 7-1 mark in league action. They finished in a tie for the league title with Robert Morris, but lost a tie-breaker with the Colonials for the league's automatic bid to the playoffs.
Central was 5-0 at home in 2010, and enters the 2011 season with a 14-game home winning streak, the second-longest active home winning streak in the country. In McInerney's five seasons the Blue Devils are 38-18, and have posted a winning record in each of his five seasons. Central has posted three straight perfect seasons at home, and hasn't lost on Arute Field since the final game of the 2007 season. They are 22-2 at home in the five years under McInerney.
"We take great pride in what we have built with this program, especially at home," McInerney said. "We're the only team in the league to post an overall and conference record above .500 in each of the last five seasons, and we are going to work hard to maintain that consistency."
In the last two seasons, when Central won a pair of conference titles, the Blue Devils are 17-6 overall and 14-2 in the league. The 14 league wins are the second-highest two season total in NEC history (RMU had 15 from 1999-2000). They have won 37 conference games since the start of the 2004 season (26 of them coming under McInerney). The 37 wins during that time are the most in the league, one ahead of Albany's 36 and five in front of Monmouth's 32. Prior to 2004, the Blue Devils had won only 19 conference games in eight seasons.
"We've built a strong program here with hard work and with great student-athletes," McInerney said. "What we need to do is continue to do things that have made us a better football program. We're not sneaking up on anybody anymore, we've proven we can consistently compete in this league, and that is the sign of a good program."
Brackett, one of five captains announced last spring, was the lone offensive preseason selection for the Blue Devils. He was a Second Team All-Conference pick a season ago, when the Blue Devils led the league in rushing (212.5 ypg) and total offense (399.5). Central has led the NEC in rushing offense in each of the last five seasons, and in total offense in four of the last five.
Williams and Linares were both named Preseason All-Conference on the defensive side of the ball. Williams was a Second Team All-Conference pick last season after posting 47 tackles and a team-high six sacks.
Linares had a solid freshman campaign in 2010. He led the team with two interceptions and had 27 tackles from his cornerback spot.
Central opens preseason camp next Monday, and will open the season at home against Southern Connecticut on Sept. 3 at 12 noon.
Fans can once again follow all of the action of preseason camp with Open Mac, a daily audio segment with McInerney that will appear on weekdays online at CCSUBlueDevils.com.
The full roster for 2011 will be released next week, as well as updated bios and headshots of all players and members of the coaching staff.
Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll (first place votes)
1. CCSU (5)
2. Duquesne (2)
3. Robert Morris (1)
5. Bryant (1)
8. Sacred Heart
9. St. Francis (PA)
May 17, 2012 Ranglin Signs With KC Chiefs
April 27, 2012 Blue Tops White in Annual Spring Game
April 10, 2012 Flag Football Fundraiser to Honor Royster and Mariani
March 26, 2012 Blue Devils Set to Begin Spring Ball
March 13, 2012 Open Mac - Previewing the Spring Game
February 16, 2012 Football Wine Tasting Fundraiser, March 9
January 31, 2012 Blue Devils Complete Recruiting Class, Announce 2012 Schedule
January 31, 2012 Tommy Buzzo Joins CCSU Football Staff
January 27, 2012 Central Wins EPA 2011 Game Day Challenge
January 19, 2012 Hall of Famer Kevorkian Passes Away
January 10, 2012 McInerney Receives Extension as Head Football Coach
December 14, 2011 Football Honors Seniors at Annual Banquet
November 29, 2011 Williams Named All-New England
November 23, 2011 Four Blue Devils Named All-Conference
November 21, 2011 Football Pair Honored on Monday
November 19, 2011 Football Posts 42-21 Win at Bryant
November 5, 2011 CCSU and RMU on NEC TV on Saturday
November 5, 2011 Football Wins on Senior Day
October 29, 2011 Football Falls in Snowy Loretto to SFPA
October 22, 2011 Football Hosts Albany - Watch Live
October 22, 2011 Albany Hands CCSU NEC Loss
October 15, 2011 Duquesne Stops Football, 28-21
October 8, 2011 Football Falls Short at UMass
October 1, 2011 Football Falls on Homecoming
September 24, 2011 Football Home Streak Stopped at 15
September 22, 2011 Watch as Blue Devils Look for 16 Straight
September 17, 2011 Blue Devils Win 28-24 at Wagner
September 17, 2011 Listen to Football for Free at 1 p.m. Today
September 12, 2011 Linares Earns NEC Weekly Honor
September 10, 2011 Listen Live for Free to Football at JMU Tonight
September 10, 2011 Central Nearly Stuns JMU, 14-9
September 5, 2011 Holmes Earns NEC Honor
September 3, 2011 Football Wins 15th Straight at Home
August 30, 2011 Tuesday Football Practice Photo Gallery
August 26, 2011 Pair of Blue Devils Throw Out Pitches for New Britain Rockcats
August 3, 2011 Football Picked to Win NEC Title in Preseason Coaches Poll
July 13, 2011 2011 Season Tickets are Now Available